"THE WORST is yet to come." They were the words of a City economist as British manufacturing industry was officially declared to be in recession. Figures released this week showed the biggest fall in manufacturing output for a decade.
I DO sometimes wonder whether someone as successful as Tony Blair can really be as stupid as he often seems. The Financial Times carried an astonishing article last week that plainly came straight from the great man himself:
"FOR THE past ten to 15 years we've been asleep. I hope we are once again awakening." These are the words of Gillo Pontecorvo, who at the age of 82 was one of the oldest protesters in Genoa.
Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee spent 1,200 words last week attacking the Socialist Alliance. That she had to do so is a sign of the resonance the Socialist Alliance is getting among thousands of people. Toynbee is a staunch defender of New Labour, although she sometimes criticises aspects of its policies.
The other day I heard George Robertson, secretary general of NATO and British defence secretary during the 1999 Balkan War, say, "We didn't wage war over Kosovo in order to replace ethnic cleansing by Serbs with ethic cleansing by Albanians."
Foot and mouth disease has dominated the press and TV for the last week. The disease is highly infectious, and action is needed. But it is not like BSE, mad cow disease, which passed to humans with devastating consequences. There is little risk to humans from foot and mouth disease. No one is likely to die or even get ill.
Turkey has become the latest country to fall victim to the whirlwind of financial speculation. A huge outflow of money forced the government of Bülent Ecevit to announce on Thursday of last week that it was allowing the Turkish currency, the lira, to float freely on the foreign exchange markets. Within two days the lira had been devalued by 36 percent.
New Labour's ten-year crime programme, released on Monday, was full of "get tough" policies. It centred on 2,500 new prison places, 9,000 more police, allowing juries to see details of a defendant's convictions during a trial, and an army of private security guards backing up the police.
"The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonalds cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US army, air force, navy and Marine Corps."THOMAS FRIEDMAN, right wing US journalist
Labour's spring conference in Glasgow last weekend was a chance to see what is going on at the heart of the Labour Party. It brought together 3,000 Labour members from all over Britain to hear a series of speeches and, for all practical purposes, to hear the leadership launch the election campaign.
A trial judge at Newport Crown Court recently claimed there was no racial motive in the horrific murder of Jan Marthin Passalbessy on 20 June 2000. This was despite hearing evidence that the four killers convicted of the murder had called their victim "nigger" and "black bastard" during the attack.
Nuclear weapons were suddenly back on the political agenda this week. They were in focus because of the determination of protesters at Faslane, and because the government is ready to do the bidding of the US and spend billions more on new missiles that could destroy the earth. The outcry against nuclear weaponry runs deep. At the Faslane protest police arrested over 370 people, including Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan, Labour MP George Galloway and Green MEP Caroline Lucas. Nuclear weapons show Labour's priorities.
I'm sure I'm only one of many thousands of anti-capitalist activists who bitterly regret having missed the World Social Forum (WSF) at Porto Alegre. At the end of last month 12,000 people from all over the world packed the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul to attend this event. It was planned as an alternative to the bosses' shindig in Davos, the World Economic Forum.
What a delicious week! The fallout from the Human Genome Project has quite simply shattered the central claim of those who say human behaviour is determined by our genes. Even sweeter is that among those who have disproved this notion are the very people who have been its champions.
You can tell an election is on the way. Last Monday's Guardian signalled that Gordon Brown is planning a £3 billion package aimed at families with children. Some believe there's more to this than just the usual hustling for votes. Roy Hattersley argues the New Labour project was already dead before Peter Mandelson's fall:
New Labour was falling apart last weekend. The leaders of the project that was supposed to have transformed politics for all time were tearing each other apart. New Labour's sleaze is a result of the way it has sold itself to business, put company chiefs at the centre of decision making, and allowed firms to rake in profits from the NHS.
There is a new sense of fightback in the air. Workers' anger at job cuts, planned factory closures, rotten pay deals and long working hours runs deep. In some areas it is beginning to bubble over. Last Saturday's demonstration against General Motors shutting down the Vauxhall car plant in Luton showed that spirit.
Africa over the past generation has proved to be a tragic continent, plagued by war, famine and the AIDS epidemic. Perhaps no country sums up this tragedy more starkly than the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), whose president, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated last week.
The case of the "internet twins" has provoked cries of outrage from politicians and press alike. The tabloid press have portrayed the Kilshaws, the British couple who bought the six month old twin girls on the internet for £8,200, as eccentric and unfit parents. The twins' biological mother has been called "shameful" and "grasping". The Kilshaws may not be particularly appetising people. He is a well-off solicitor and belongs to a far right fragment, the Democratic Party. But most people who are desperate for children are not like this. The same politicians and newspapers that have been in uproar over the "internet twins" have helped create a situation that drives such people to
Every day this year a new scandal explodes and fuels the bitterness people feel with New Labour. This week millions of people were sickened by the shocking picture of bodies dumped on the floor of a hospital chapel because cost cutting meant the mortuary was closed.